The Bliss Family Arrives in Wacousta, part 1

July 7, 2009


David Bliss, 1791-1860

David, son of David Bliss and Lucy Stebbins, was born in Springfield, Massachusetts.  He was a saddle and harness maker.

David married Samantha Griswold in 1812 and had 13 children, 12 of whom were born in Wilmington, Vermont.  He served as a Deacon in the Wilmington Congregational Church.  They also lived in Bennington and Shaftsbury, Vermont, and then moved to New York State before heading west. 

In 1848, David and several of his children, including our ancestor David Pitney Bliss set off for Michigan to their “soldiers claim” in Riley Township.  Their experiences as described by David’s son Henry were reported in the following article from the St. John’s newspaper.  The account is long and will broken into several installments.  There is not a date on the article, but Henry died in 1929, the last of the Bliss children to die.  The article is entitled, “BLISS FAMILY HELD REUNION.”

The Bliss family held a reunion at the M.A.C. Saturday, about 150 being present, the greater part of whom live in Clinton County.  G.F. Ottmar of Riley read the following family history.

David and Samantha Bliss lived in Vermont state and later moved to New York state in the early 40’s.  The family consisted of Stebbins, David, Horatio, Augustus, Henry, Sidney, Lucy Hodges, Sabrina Temple, Adeline Pratt, Elizabeth Osborn, and Emily, who died in New York state in the spring of 1848.  From this point of the family history begins our story as related to me by Uncle Henry Bliss.  [Note: Henry Bliss is son of David Bliss and brother to David Pitney Bliss, our direct ancestor.]  He said:

In the fall of 1848, father and mother, David, Horatio, Augustus, myself, Sidney, Cyrus and Adeline Pratt his wife, and Rufus Pratt started for Michigan, and settled on a soldier’s claim in the Township of Riley, Clinton County.  Stebbins came in 1849.  Jim and Lucy Hodges came from Wisconsin to Michigan and joined the family in 1849.  Elizabeth Osborn remained in New York.  Sabrina and Merret Temple came in 1861.

We took an Erie Canal boat at Schenectady, N.Y., and arrived in Buffalo one week later.  The weather was fine and the trip was very slow.  The boat was drawn with horses and they walked all the way.  We took a steamer from Buffalo to Detroit, Michigan.

Uncle Clark Griswold, who lived at Northville, Mich., sent a team of horses and lumber wagon to Detroit to get us and took us all to his place.  It was quite a load.  Uncle Clark was husking his corn, so we stayed a week with him and helped him finish.  He then sent his team and hired man, and a neighbor with his team and wagons, and took us and what goods we could carry to Riley.  The roads were very bad, and traveling was hard.  The balance of the goods we left at Uncle Clark’s.  The next summer we hired Freeman Nichols, who then lived the second house west of Boughton’s corners, to go to Northville to get the remainder of the goods.  We had no money to pay for this, so we agreed to chop and clear a certain number of acres of heavy timbered land to pay for this trip.  We had to chop down the trees, burn them and fence the field.  We got a lot of experience.  The logs were green elms and hard to burn.  This was our first experience clearing forests.

Uncle Clark asked Mr. Nichols how we were getting along and he told him that we were hard up, and so he sent along with the goods a whole barrel of pork for us.  I tell you that was good.  Uncle Clark was certainly a fine man.  (Right here let me say that the writer of this article met Uncle Clark at the home of the relater, Uncle Henry, a few years before his sad and sudden death and he can frankly say that he never met a kinder-hearted and more pleasing old gentleman than Uncle Clark Griswold.)

More tales of the Bliss adventures will be told in subsequent posts to this blog.

Migration to Michigan – the 1800s

July 6, 2009

At the beginning of the 1800s, the Bliss family was living in Massachusetts, the Daniells and the Winegars had settled in New York State, and the Stephensons were living in Lincolnshire, England.  By 1855, all four families had relocated to Clinton County, Michigan.  What made this migration possible was the opening of the Erie Canal in 1825.  This opened  up the “West” for development. 

Click on the link on the right side of the page labeled Routes to Michigan for an interactive map showing the paths the four families traveled.  You can click on both the markers and the lines to get information about the families and the routes they traveled.

The Erie Canal in the 1800s

The Erie Canal in the 1800s

Erie Canal today.  Photo by Sandra Winegar.

Erie Canal today. Photo by Sandra Winegar.

The Bliss Family in the 1700s

July 1, 2009


David Bliss (1722-1760)

Following the death of Thomas Bliss in 1650, his widow Margaret Hulins Bliss relocated the family to Springfield, Massachusetts where she lived with her daughter Mary Bliss Parsons.  Margaret died in 1684, outliving both her husband and her son Lawrence. 

David Bliss, Margaret’s great-grandson, was born in Springfield in 1722 and probably lived in the house shown below.  He was for many years Town Constable of Springfield.  He married Miriam Sexton in 1757.  He lived only three years after his marriage and died of smallpox just a week before his 38th birthday. 

Home of Margaret Bliss in Springfield, Massachusetts.

Home of Margaret Bliss in Springfield, Massachusetts.

David Bliss, Jr. (1758-1791)

David Bliss, Jr. was born in Springfield in 1758.  He married Lucy Stebbins in 1787.  He was a shoemaker, tanner, and currier.  His health failed, and he lived only four years after his marriage.  He died in 1791 at the age of 33. 

Courthouse of colonial Springfield, Massachusetts.

Courthouse of colonial Springfield, Massachusetts.

Parsons Tavern in Springfield, Massachusetts, 1776

Parsons Tavern in Springfield, Massachusetts, 1776

The Bliss family in the 1600s

June 23, 2009


Thomas Bliss (1585 – 1650/51)

Thomas Bliss was born in Gloucester, England.  He married Margaret Hulins in 1621.  We do not know when or how they came to America, but he was in Hartford, Connecticut by 1639, and the records show that he had built a house by that time.  At his death, his widow was granted land in Springfield, Massachusetts, where she lived until her death in 1684.  She vigorously defended their daughter Mary Parsons when Mary was under suspicion of witchcraft in 1656, but in 1674 a formal charge was made resulting in Mary’s trial and acquittal in Boston.

Mary Bliss Parsons, who was charged with being a witch.

Mary Bliss Parsons, who was charged with being a witch.

Lawrence Bliss (1626-1676)

Lawrence, the son of Thomas, was born in England.  We do not know for sure how he came to America, but he probably came at the same time as his father before 1639.  He married Lydia Wright in 1654 in Springfield, Massachusetts.  He died in Springfield in 1676.

William Bliss (1670-1740)

William, son of Lawrence and grandson of Thomas, lived his whole life in Springfield, Massachusetts.  He married Margaret Lombard in 1710.

Bliss Mill at Chipping Norton, England.  Our family may have been associated with this mill that made woolens.

Bliss Mill at Chipping Norton, England. Our family may have been associated with this mill that made woolens.

Coming to Wacousta – 1600s

June 22, 2009

During the 1600’s, European colonies were founded in the New World.  Among the earliest families to arrive in New England were the Daniels who settled in Dorchester and Milton, Massachusetts, and the Blisses who settled in Springfield, Massachusetts.

 The first Winegar in our records was Ulrich who was born in Switzerland in 1668 and by the end of the century was living in southern Germany under extremely harsh conditions.

 Our earliest record of the Stephensons was Henry who was married in 1691.  The Stephensons lived in Lincolnshire on the east coast of England.

Maps of England and Germany in the 1600s

Maps of England and Germany in the 1600s

Coming to Wacousta Intro

June 22, 2009

My grandparents, the Winegars, the Stephensons, the Daniells and the Blisses all settled in Wacousta, Michigan, a very small farming community.  The Winegars originally came from Switzerland and Germany and the other three families came from England.  How they all ended up in Wacousta has always been interesting to me.

I have genealogical information on all of the families dating back into the 1600’s.  What I propose to do is to trace the four families from my earliest records up to the present time, sharing not just genealogy but other facts of interest that I may have.  I am calling this history, Coming to Wacousta.  I plan to look at each century and to share where my ancestors were and what they were doing.  I did this on a web site about 15 years ago but unfortunately the site was lost and I have to reconstruct most of it.  I will be posting it as it is developed.

Ancestors of Donald Stephenson Winegar and Mary Daniells Winegar

June 20, 2009
Ancestors of Donald Stephenson Winegar

Ancestors of Donald Stephenson Winegar


Ancestors of Mary Daniells Winegar

Ancestors of Mary Daniells Winegar

These charts are included so that viewers can see who my ancestors are and have an understanding of what family lines I have information and pictures on.  The first pictures I posted on are from a family photo album of Carey Reed Daniells and Catherine Stowell Daniells the grandparents of Mary.

As I add more pictures, I will provide information here as to what has been added.

Welcome to my genealogy blog

June 20, 2009


Daniells Mill, Wacousta, Michigan

Daniells Mill, Wacousta, Michigan

 I am the son of Donald Stephenson Winegar and Mary Daniells Winegar.  Both grew up in Wacousta, Michigan.  I have recently retired and have time to devote to genealogy.  My situation is quite different from most people getting involved in genealogy.  I am not seeking information on my ancestors but looking for a way to share and organize the information that I have.

On both sides of my family, a genealogist/historian preceded me.  My father, Donald S. Winegar, spent much of his retirement collecting data on the Winegars, the Stephensons and anyone who married into these families. My aunt, Betty Daniells, traced the Daniells genealogy back to the royalty of England.  Both of these historians collected their data in the era before the Internet, traveling to genealogical libraries and writing letters.

I inherited all of the data that that Donald and Betty collected.  I have an incredible amout of family information.  In particular, the Daniells saved everything related to their family.The majority of the data they collected has been entered into Family Tree Maker into a very large file.  I have a wealth of family pictures from the Winegars, Stephensons, Daniells, Blisses, Plowmans, and many others. 

My plan initially is to publish many of these pictures on the internet so they are available to those interested.  I am not familiar with the various internet tools so how I provide information will change as I get better. Right now, I am putting pictures on under jswinegar.  They are tagged with Wacousta and Daniells.  I have 32 pictures on flickr that come from a family album of Carey Reed Daniells (1845-1912)and Catherine Stowell Daniells (1844-1923).

More information will follow.


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